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Meeting industry’s needs for environmental testing of large components for offshore use is now one step closer with the ordering of a climatic chamber for a new LORC test centre.

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Testing is crucial for future offshore power plants

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onsdag 20. april 2011

For offshore turbines, reliability is the keyword according to Anders Eldrup, CEO at DONG Energy. Heading a business with a strategy of covering 85% of energy production with renewables, he predicts tougher demands on both warranties and documented testing of offshore wind turbines.

By Tea Tramontana
As a buyer, DONG Energy is interested in well-tested products. With a share in around half of all installed offshore wind power plants in the world, DONG Energy has a long experience with the harsh offshore environment and problems that occur when turbines fail out in the sea. Not the least of these is the costs connected to the repair of offshore turbines.

- We certainly cannot build offshore wind power plants without comprehensive warranties and documented testing of the turbines. This will be crucial to our choice of turbines in the future, says Anders Eldrup.

He points to the fact that DONG Energy has more than 30 years of experience with wind power:

- We have learned a lot over the years and have also experienced a range of problems like any other player in this industry. Now it is important to put these problems behind us and ensure that the projects that we enter into are more proven and safe.

- It makes good sense to share the costs of establishing test facilities, says Anders Eldrup.

An immature industry full of challenges
Offshore wind is a fairly new industry that is still somewhat immature. To make it competitive with other forms of energy production it is crucial that costs are cut and turbines are made more effcient. Only in this way will the industry be able to survive with less public funding than is the case today:

- Turbines will be larger and installed further offshore in deeper water. These are the challenges that we struggle with. Future projects will be more costly and this will require new ways of developing turbines, says Anders Eldrup.

The CEO highlights challenges in connection with both installation and new types of foundations and turbines with and without gearboxes. In the dawn of the wind industry when everything took place onshore, testing was easier. 50 kilometers offshore, everything becomes much more complicated. Anders Eldrup thinks that a combination of thorough experimental testing and well-located test sites for full scale testing is needed:
- The future will involve thorough testing before installation, simply because the cost of future projects will be huge.

DONG shares its experiences
To DONG Energy it is important to play an active role in the development of future turbines. The Danish energy company is engaged in many different test projects. Among others, DONG Energy is part of the Lindoe Offshore Renewables Center, where the world’s largest and smartest test bench for wind turbines is under construction. When asked why DONG Energy engaged with LORC, he says:

- Denmark has been a pioneer in wind energy and we would like to contribute to maintaining this prominent position.

To Anders Eldrup it makes very good sense to share experiences and work together – even with competitors:

- The huge test facilities are very expensive but we do need them in order to obtain more reliable turbines. Therefore it makes good sense to share the costs of establishing test facilities. To DONG Energy the ideal situation is to have turbines in the future without any teething problems and this is where thorough testing becomes crucial.

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